Park City judge locks up woman who kept stillborns in tote
She is ordered to serve 60 days in case involving ‘tragic situation’
June 16, 2017
A 3rd District Court judge on Monday ordered a California woman to serve 60 days in jail after she stored two stillborn babies in a tote in Park City in 2015.
Judge Kent Holmberg also ordered Molly Jojola to complete 200 hours of community service and placed her on probation for 36 months. The judge suspended a prison sentence of between zero and five years on the condition that Jojola complete the rest of the order, including undergoing substance abuse and mental health evaluations and treatment. She is incarcerated at the Summit County Jail.
Jojola in November pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony charge of abusing or desecrating a human body. The charge could be reduced to a misdemeanor and then expunged from her record if she completes the terms of the sentence. A second charge of abusing or desecrating a human body was dismissed in November.
Jojola, 29 and a California resident, was arrested in September of 2015 after the remains of the two stillborns were found while someone was cleaning her room at a residence on Empire Avenue. Prosecutors said DNA testing showed Jojola to be the mother.
A charging document indicated Jojola told a Park City Police Department investigator she had the first child in early 2012 in a Park City condominium after not realizing she was pregnant. The baby was lifeless and not breathing. Jojola bought a plastic tote to store the remains and took the tote with her when she moved later that year, the prosecutors said in the charging document. She had the second child in early 2014, another stillborn, and put the remains in the tote with the first one, prosecutors said.
Catherine Cleveland, the attorney who represents Jojola, said in an interview the first child was conceived as a result of a rape that was not reported to the authorities. The second one was conceived during a period of time when Jojola was promiscuous and drinking alcohol heavily, the attorney said. The drinking was a reaction to the rape, Cleveland said.
"She started on this downward spiral, didn't know how to get out of," Cleveland said. "It's just a tragic situation."
Cleveland said a roommate found the remains after entering Jojola's room to remove alcohol.
"She was devastated, but she couldn't tell anybody. When the babies were found, she said it saved her life," Cleveland said.
She said Jojola was a ski instructor at the time and is now a chef and living with her parents in California. She has not consumed alcohol since approximately one month before the remains were found, Cleveland said. Cleveland described the 60 days in jail ordered by the judge as inappropriate, saying it would have been better for Jojola to have returned home to her parents, continue to work and continue to see a therapist.
The bodies of the two stillborn children are expected to be cremated shortly, Joy Natale, the Summit County prosecutor who oversaw the case, said. The ashes will be given to the Jojola family for burial, she said.
Natale said Jojola suffers from serious mental-health and alcohol issues. It was important that both be addressed during sentencing, she said, calling the sentence a "fair resolution to the case."
"I think she's been remorseful and accepting of responsibility," Natale said.